How To: 1rst Gen Durango Shackle Lift - DodgeTalk : Dodge Car Forums, Dodge Truck Forums and Ram Forums

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post #1 of 2 Old 02-16-2005, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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I decided to post this info again on this forum since the question comes up several times a month

Attached below are the install instructions for the 2" torsion shackle lift. The pictures below show before and after the 2" shackle torsion lift with the 265 70R16 tires. This lift has proved to be cheap, strong, reliable, and all around cool. You can raise the front by 2" and the rear shckles will lift the back by 1.75". I run with my 2" lift in the front. This gives my D a bit of a nose up look.

This is an easly lift and can be done in your garage or driveway in less than 2 hours. After having done it once, I could probably do it in under 1 hour. Lifting the front is simple and requires jacking up the front, putting the D on jackstands, and tightening the torsion bar adjusting bolt. This takes alot of torque, but I did mine by hand. Many have expressed concerns over problems with a torsionbar lift. I have researched this lift for over 2 years. I have seen very very few owners reports of any problems resulting from this lift. The driveshafts seem to handle the driveangle change without complaint. The setup can use stock length shocks without accelerated wear. The balljoints are not stressed any more with the lift than with stock height.

There are 2 manufacturer for the lifting shackles. Western and Beltech. The Western shackle (Part # 2001) can be purchased from The Beltech 6700 shackles can be purchased from Summit Racing: Although these shackles are advertised to be a 1" drop for a chevy, they also work nicely to give 2" lift to a Durango. They have been in Durangos for years and many have put over 100K miles on the lifted suspension without trouble.

I have used both shackles and consider them of equal strength. My first set (Western) bent in an accident and I replaced them with the Beltechs. I was told the Beltechs were heavier duty, but this is incorrect. Both Shackles use the same thickness of steel. The only real difference is the color of the shackles. Beltechs are black and the Westerns are grey. Mounting dimensions are identical. There are very minor differences in location and shape of the lightening holes. I would recommend using the Western Shackles since they are much cheaper.

Many wonder if an alignment is needed. I didn't get one and I had no uneven tire wear. I have never even read any posts reporting uneven tire wear from this lift. But, if paying $75 - $100 for an alignment makes you feel better, by all means go get that alignment. The shop guys will thank you.

Dodge uses a 30.7" dia x 10.5" wide (265 70R16) as the largest diameter stock tire. By using a 2" shackle/torsion lift (under $100) you can fit 32" x 10.5" tires without rubbing. Wider tires will rub, but some have used 11.5" tires with the 2" lift with minimal rubbing when at full turn. By using a 3" Rancho lift ($1500 - $2500), you can still only fit 32" x 10.5" tires without rubbing. By using a 3" body lift ($300 - $800), you can fit 33" tires x 11.5" tires without rubbing.

You can go bigger than 33" with a solid axle lift, Tuff Country lift, or others (beware the dangerous Whiplash lift). While possible to go bigger than 33", it is very expensive and will degrade the street performance of your D to a level that most (but not all) find undesireable. Remember that bigger tires mean lower milage, poorer braking performance, loss of power, etc... Make sure you are willing live with these side effects before making the costly upgrade to new tires and a lift.

The front axle of a stock Durango is generally considered only moderately strong. Generally a 32" max tire size is recommended, although many have offroaded successfully for thousands of miles with 33's. Hardcore offroading with anything larger than 32's may cause your front diff to go boom.


If you go bigger than 31" tires, you will probably want to upgrade your brake system. The Durango and Dak have pitifully weak brakes and larger tires need more braking power. Upgrading to powerslot rotors and hawk pads may do the trick, or you can install rear disk brakes in place of the stock drums for $1000 - $1500.
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post #2 of 2 Old 02-16-2005, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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These instructions were written by Glenn Robertson. Thanks Glenn for your help. Great info.

Shackle Lift / Torsion Bar Lift

The shackle lift / Torsion bar adjust is an easy and inexpensive way to raise the body of your Durango about 1.75”. Everyone calls this a 2” lift, but actual gain is only about 1.75”.

The first step is to order the shackle for the rear springs. I went with a Western shackle, part number 2001 from Mac’s Springs in California. Total cost including shipping was $35. The other option is Beltech, but I believe that is closer to $70 for virtually the same part. The only other parts you will need are 8 washers (4 per shackle) to fill in some space in the top of the new shackle. I include pics of where the washers go below.

With the parts in hand, you are ready to start wrenching. First thing to do is drop the spare tire and set it to the side. You will also need to remove the tow hitch if you have one. First, unplug the electrical connector at the back of the plug. This is a simple process of pinching the plug to release the lock and pulling it out. Next, you will have to remove the 8 or 10 bolts that hold the hitch to the frame. They are 18mm and will require a socket and extension. You can either use a jack to hold the hitch in place until you remove all the bolts, or a friend comes in handy. I just layed underneath and held it up with my spare hand and leg until I got the last bolt out and then set it aside. It is not really as heavy as I expected, just kind of awkward.

With the obstacles out of the way, jack each side of the rear wheels off the ground using the frame. Use blocks or automotive jack stands to secure the vehicle. Go to the rear of the springs and remove the bolts holding the shackle in place. It is easiest if you remove the bottom bolt first. This takes the pressure off the top bolt and makes getting it out much easier.

With the shackle out, you will notice that the spring actually wants to go up a little bit, when actually you need it to come down 2”. I used a floor jack between the frame and the spring to push it down. An easier alternative would be a cylinder jack, or a friend pulling down on the spring while you insert a block of wood to push the spring down. A small cylinder jack is perfect because you can adjust the height of the spring, making installation of the new shackle very easy.

When you install the new shackle, insert the top bolt first. This is where you will need the washers. The new shackle is slightly wider than the stock shackle here and the washers fill that space so the shackle does not move from side to side. Some people have used garden hose washers, but I preferred something solid and went to the local hardware store and got some fairly thick washers (about equal to a garden hose washer, or a little less). I took the new shackle with me to compare hole size.

The bottom requires no washers, just insert the bolt and tighten it down. I did not have torque settings, so I just tightened them down good and tight. The nuts are about 19 or 20mm, but I just used vice grips on one side and channel locks on the other. Once the bolts are tight, you can replace the hitch, lower the D’s wheels to the ground and replace the spare tire. Off to the Torsion bars we go.

Torsion Bar Adjust

The torsion bars are located on the front of the D and go from the front suspension to the crossmember right under the front doors. The bolt you need to adjust us in this cross member under the doors. My bolt was 15/16”, but looking at a 98’, it appeared smaller. You will want to jack the front of the D off the ground so the front tires are at least 2” off the ground. Again, using the frame to jack on. This way you will be “pushing” the wheels down, rather than “lifting” the truck off the wheels. You want to take some type of marking tool, (I used white out), to mark the bolt and the cross member, as well as the socket that you are going to use. This allows you to keep track of the number of revolutions you turn the bolt.

In the picture below you can see the white out that is still on there from when I adjusted mine. Each complete turn will raise the front of the D ¼”. Therefore, 8 turns would equal 2”. I would stop at 7 turns and see if the D is level. You can always turn it another turn if you need another ¼”. If you have to lower the front a little bit, always go past where you want to stop about 1 full turn and then adjust back up. You always want to adjust with tension, not removing tension. You will need to lower the D back onto the suspension and then either drive it around a little bit, finding some speed bumps or other “settling” devices. Come back and measure the front and rear fenders above the wheels to see if it is level.

Several people have done this and some got a front end alignment to make sure the camber was still adjusted properly. Those that have had the alignment reported that some adjustment was needed, but others that have not done the alignment have reported no abnormal tire wear as a result of the lift. Use your best judgement. I personally am trying to wear out the stock badyears so I can get a good set of tires and some chrome wheels to dress her up a little bit.

The best thing about this lift is the cost, $35 plus some change for washers, and the fact that it is not permanent, if you don’t like it, just put the stock shackles back on and adjust the torsion bars down.
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